[photo of class board / photo credit: Yujin Son]
This year, I became a student leader in my school. There were many new things I had to work on as a leader. I was not familiar with the work, but these experiences allowed me to develop important skills and improve myself. In this article, I would like to describe my experience and the feelings I had while working as a student leader in 2021.
My school has two types of leaders. One of them is a student leader, who generally manages various initiatives during the year, and the other is an international leader, who focuses on helping international students from all over the world. I applied for the positions of both student and international leader, but these two types of leaders are selected in different ways.
Anyone who wants to volunteer for a leadership position has to fill out a particular form. In the form, they have to write why they are suitable for the position and describe what contributions they have made to the school in the past. Lastly, the signature of a teacher, any teacher, is needed. After the form is submitted to the head of the grade, the student has to wait and prepare for the next step of the process.
I applied for both student and international leadership positions. For the student leader position, candidates have to give a speech in front of all students in the grade, after which there is a secret vote by students through Google Forms. Teachers then hold a conference before they announce the student leaders, which is when the candidates learn the results.
However, international leaders have a very different process to complete. They only have interviews with international prefects. Prefects are Grade 12 students who are in charge of the whole school. With a teacher and two international prefects, ask the candidates a few questions like “Why do you think you are suitable for this position?” or “What have you done to help international students?” One week after the interview, the teachers tell the candidates the results.
Fortunately, I was selected to be a student leader. There was a leadership workshop during the week, and students from Grades 9 to 11 listened to speeches by the head of the secondary school and other teachers who manage student leaders. We shared ideas on how to make the school better and drew up a mind map for the basic goals we wanted to achieve for the year.
The next week after the workshop, our work as student leaders officially started. First of all, every Monday at lunch, student leaders have to gather in a room for a student leader meeting. Each of us had a fixed amount of time to share any creative ideas for initiatives, which were recorded in the meeting minutes. For instance, I wanted to talk about a suggestion box, so I had three to five minutes to introduce my initiative in detail.
Not only that, but we also needed to present a slideshow to the class, and sometimes we had to go around to each classroom and collect money for donations. These activities were especially difficult for me as I was not familiar with them, having always been a student who followed the instructions of leaders rather than giving the instructions.
For example, I had to give a presentation on anti-bullying or environmental protection. It was my first time presenting a slideshow in front of a large audience, more than 20 students and teachers. At first, I was nervous. I got tongue-tied, and my voice was too soft. However, giving presentations again and again enabled me to speak confidently. I realized that standing and speaking in front of people is not a big deal. Although I am still learning, I feel that I am actually improving a lot and my confidence is growing.
Moreover, I always feel that it is so worthwhile to work as a student leader. For instance, there was an activity called “Decorating the Classroom Board,” where each student leader was in charge of decorating the board of one classroom. It was my first initiative working with other students, and I realized that it is very difficult to make everyone in the class listen to what I was saying. I also had to encourage them to bring ideas about what they wanted to do.
Another initiative was the “Shark Chant Competition.” For this, we had to record a video of students singing shark chants. I can say it was more difficult than decorating the classroom board. In a limited time, I had to accept students’ ideas and tell them what to do. Teaching them the shark chant and choreography took me a long time.
It was almost impossible for all the students to pay attention at once. Although I repeated the same thing more than five times, at least one of them still made mistakes. Furthermore, while I was doing the chant and choreography in front of the class, I felt a strong sense of responsibility, because everybody in the classroom was looking at me to follow the chant.
I realized that if I got it wrong, the rest of them would get it wrong as well. However, thankfully, for both activities, the students helped me a lot and followed the instructions. As a result, I was able to make a pretty classroom board, and the class I was in charge of got third place in the whole school.
I cannot say it was an easy journey as a student leader. However, whenever someone thanks me for doing these activities for the grade or a class, I feel overwhelmed. All these experiences have become a valuable memory now. I am really thankful for the student leaders and teachers who supported me and the other students who followed my instructions. I will never regret deciding to work as a student leader.
Yujin Son firstname.lastname@example.org